In May 2020, the Cork Cycling Campaign, along with the HSE Cork Healthy Cities Team, Pedestrian Cork, and over twenty other organisations, signed a letter drafted by the Transport and Mobility Forum which called on Cork City and County Councils to deliver safe streets during the COVID-19 pandemic.
As other cities adapted to the challenges that the pandemic posed for urban transport, mobility, and physical activity, planners and engineers in Cork City Council were busy drafting plans.
By July, a programme of works was unveiled. The ‘Re-imagined Cork’ project promised:
- 1.3km of new pedestrianised streets
- Over 4km of new cycle lanes
- The resurfacing of 6km of cycle lanes and bus corridors
- Upgrading 4km of cycle lanes with the installation of light segregation
- 43 new bike parking bays to cater for 500 bikes.
Cork took a unique approach in Ireland by putting the new cycle lanes out to public consultation but the feedback was clear. For the South Mall Cycle Lane, over 90% of respondents supported the plans.
As Autumn settled into Cork, flexi-bollards were installed along sections of cycle lanes that had become notorious for illegal parking. Old and cracked resin on cycle lanes was chipped off and often replaced with a new surfaces. The first of the cycle lanes, along Centre Park Rd, was started. There was much anticipation in the air for paths and lanes that would make it safer to cycle in the city.
The January lockdown put a hold on construction work but by the summer, Cork had much to be proud about. A new cycle route from the South Mall stretches the whole way to the Marina and onto Blackrock village. Arguably one of the longest continuous cycle routes in an Irish city now.
New bike parking bays have been installed all over the city and are helping to regularise bike parking. Bollards and wands are keeping busy cycle routes, like the one along Washington Street, clear of parked vehicles.
The pace of change over the past 12 months in Cork has been impressive. The changes have both helped keep people already cycling safe and also attract new people to cycling. This is good news for Cork, every person who chooses to move in the city by bike is one less car on the road and one less space needed in the city centre for parking.
While much has been done in recent months, Cork faces challenges to become a true bike friendly city. Additional routes will be needed to ensure that everyone, regardless of where they live, has access to a safe cycle lane. Lower vehicular speed limits will ensure that injury risks are lowered in case of collisions. New cycle infra needs to be built to high standards and avoid sharing space with pedestrians as much as possible.
The last 12 months have shown us that a lot can be done when we need to move quickly as a city. The pandemic is a major societal issue at the moment but climate action, economic competiveness, and a liveable city are all issues we face also. The Cork Cycling Campaign are keen to play our role to ensure that cycle solutions to these issues can be realised.
As a resident of the city, and one who uses a bike from time to time, I’d like to thank the NTA and Cork City Council for making cycling easier in our city and look forward to future plans.
Chair, Cork Cycling Campaign